Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Undemocratic Judges Cannot Protect Constitution: Ex-CJ

Kathmandu, March 28-Former chief justice Kedar Nath Upadhayay said undemocratic judges cannot protect the existing constitution, which has democratic norms and values.

Unless judges with democratic norms, values and independence are appointed, the Constitution cannot be protected, he said, adding sycophant and dependent judges cannot protect judicial independence.The former CJ was speaking at an interaction on Judicial Council's Work and Independent Judiciary organised by the Constitutional Lawyers' Forum (CLAF) here on Monday.

Upadhayay accused the CJ-headed Judicial Council (JC) of committing mistakes while appointing justices in the recent past.

He also suggested the body to regularly monitor judges' performance and investigate into corruption, irregularities and malpractices in the judiciary.

Upadhayay also said the members of the JC are not accountable to anyone for their work and the CJ has been facing public pressure of every wrong decision.

He also suggested adopting new appointment process of judges only after getting approval of the parliament so that they will directly be accountable to the people. Upadhayay, however, said it was not the job of the Nepal Bar Association and the Press to question Supreme Court Justices' performance, as they have been doing regarding several controversial decisions.

He was of the view that appointing ad hoc judges in the apex court was not good in terms of judicial independence and said it might create a situation where decisions may not be impartial due to several factors related with appointment of judges.Retired secretary of the JC, Kashi Raj Dahal, opposed the appointment of ad hoc judges to the apex court which, according to him, may be a factor affecting the independence of the judiciary.
President of the Nepal Bar Association, Shambhu Thapa, accused Law Minister Niranjan Kumar Thapa of trying to interfere in the independent judiciary by appointing royalists.He also said Judge Shambhu Bahadur Khadka's recruitment in the dissolved Royal Commission for Corruption Control is an example of interference in the judicial independence.
Former Law Minister Subash Nembang urged the JC not to appoint any judge who can not protect judicial independence.
Former Attorney General Badri Bahadur Karki suggested measures to correct the mistakes committed by the JC in the past.
Senior advocate Shree Hari Aryal, advocates Madhav Kumar Basnet and Bhimarjun Acharya said the JC should appoint capable and independent judges as per the wish of the Constitution.They also suggested appointment of an NBA representative and not a retired judge to the JC as a member to be appointed by the King.

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